View Full Version : Mysticism
09-25-2006, 07:39 PM
I'll start with this:
"Only in freedom from mortal recoil is the individual capable of ecstasy under all conditions." --Da Free John (1978)
09-30-2006, 09:01 PM
I spent some time thinking before I added anything to this forum. The quote seems to validate the traditional idea of hermits seeking religious ecstacy by living alone (free from mortal recoil) in the desert for years to overcometheir personal demons and desires and find deep religious fulfillment. Mysticism has traditionally been an aspect of religions around the world. In some religions it has a central place (i.e., Bhuddism, Catholicism, Dionysian rites, etc.) though few were expected to take on the rigors of the discipline.
I'm not sure where mysticism fits into the world of Thomas Ligotti. It is a profoundly religious experience and that is just about the opposite of what Ligotti believes. For example, monks renounce both the world and themselves so that they may, on a deeper level, gain both. Most folks aren't interested in that kind of life, even though there can be great joy (as is evident in the works of Thomas Merton). In fact, in this world, a great many people don't even have those kinds of religious beliefs anymore, and the ones that do aren't interested in giving up their comforts.
Mysticism takes belief, a great deal of work, and a lot of time. It's much easier to game a mystic in a role-playing game than it is to spend years in the desert with just a simple faith. Our society isn't geared for that kind of thing. In the middle ages, when belief was widespead and life was even worse than it is now, the concept had a lot of popularity both in the East and West. I don't think it will ever die out, but it has been more central to life in the past. Look at Russian history.
09-30-2006, 11:22 PM
Ligotti has written about a certain type of dark, fancied (speculative?) mysticism that he seems to glimpse. He also personally experimented for many years with meditation and spiritual techniques and philosophy. Most of us know he currently reads quite a bit into pessimistic Buddhism.
The quote above has nothing to do with the traditional renunciation of which you speak, though I can see why you put that out. Thanks for thinking about it. "Mortal recoil" is a term of Free John's for the contraction of the self, or the basic and primitive gesture of avoidance of relationship on every level. Fear of death. Nonacceptance...of mortality, even of life since life and death would be said to be in polar relation to each other.
10-03-2006, 12:40 AM
I was pretty interested in Mysticism for a while. Shamans and the Otherworld and all that good stuff. I think it's that urge to return to primitive roots...to return to something that just seems...natural.
I can buy into the fact that if you have no mortal relations, you have no troubles. I know that's not the entire jist of the quote, but for my arguments' sake, I'll overlook this.
I'm reminded by a quote from the doom metal band, Katatonia (er they were doom metal):
"When you have no one, no one can hurt you"
10-03-2006, 07:53 AM
To try to be clear: he's saying that it is the freedom from this tendency (recoil, self-contraction, avoidance) that results in the condition of ecstasy.
And incidentally, this could be the "ego-death" that TL has written and spoken about, including in his last interview; also what it seems U.G. Krishnamurti might have undergone.
10-04-2006, 02:48 AM
jeez, I haven't posted on here in ages... anyway, I thought this was a good topic by which to resurrect my TLO personage, because it also touches on why I've been absent: time spent in the proverbial desert (at least, the one between my own ears.)
To be honest, I don't get as much out of reading Ligotti or any other "pessimistic" authors these days; perhaps I've had the troll's shard removed from my eye? It seems as if my cynicism has been integrated into a more (dare I say?) expansive and sunnier view on things, in which it is somehow evident -- in my gut -- that my "true self" is not my "ego-self," but rather it is THE creative source... which isn't to say that I'm "enlightened" or anything of the kind, but that I can, more than ever, "participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world" (to paraphrase Joseph Campbell.)
Reading this thread also reminded me of a bit from Crowley's (er, Aiwass'?) Liber Legis:
29. For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union.
30. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.
Those words, I think, hold a good deal of wisdom regarding our place in the universe, and why we suffer. Perspective is everything.
Thoughts? Is anyone else on here as "mystically optimistic" as I am? :P
10-04-2006, 04:30 PM
I used to be. It's good having your input here, V. Rather courageous of you, I think.
10-04-2006, 07:01 PM
Thoughts? Is anyone else on here as "mystically optimistic" as I am?
Yes, ventriloquist, at times. I confess my fickle nature. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I want so hard to believe in (or embrace) this, that, or the other system of beliefs which dangles before me like a carrot from a stick. On Tuesday and Thursday, I do not give a rip at all. I will not speak of Saturday and Sunday. Even my wishy-washy approach to our common mystery of existence is subject to unpredictable delights and tragedies: the death of a loved one, winning big in the lottery, losing a job, making a new friend, etc. Each event shapes us. We either evolve or devolve into this, that, the other, or none of the above. What day of the week is it?
10-04-2006, 08:48 PM
Thanks for the replies, gents. I'm no less fickle about these things, in my own ways; I only wish it were so easy for me as to regiment my moods by the calendar! There are more dark days ahead, I'm sure, which will lead me to re-re-re-...-evaluate my beliefs. When it comes to these matters, though, I think a certain amount of fickleness (maybe a less pejorative term would be "flexibility") can be a boon. The gods are slippery mothers, always full of paradoxes and surprises, so why should we be any easier to peg? These days, I suppose, I'd say, "I believe in everything."
To get less personal and more on topic, I am inclined to see "freedom from mortal recoil" as being basically synonymous with "ego-death." I think we all slip in and out of such states as a matter of course. I wonder how much difference there is between a monk meditating on his mountaintop, on the cusp of the moment when the divine light bulb pops on (or off?), and the Average Joe on the job who gets "lost in his work." Is the difference no more than the monk's tendency to reflect more deeply on his experiences? Does it even matter?
In any case, I'll go out on a limb and associate ego-death with ecstasy. I've only had brief glimpses beyond the first few veils, but it's enough for me to intuit the sheer wonder and pleasure quintessential to consciousness. (and the universe is, indeed, Mental....)
It's an oft-used quote of Blake's, but I still like it: "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite."
10-04-2006, 09:19 PM
In my own life, the past week has been characterized by trying to "figure the whole thing out." Again, of course. I suppose it's about time, and it's really not been that grueling; I can get honest a lot quicker than I used to. Yes, things changing (like jobs) often have a great deal to do with the changes in outlook. I was resisting the invention of a new paradigm for the past couple of years, figuring another one just wasn't where it's at. But now, who knows... Something to pass the time.
I've been mystically inclined since my early teens.
I want very much for all to be included -- or for my perception to clear enough to see that all is. I want the worlds of TL and those of my spiritual gurus to coexist. But then, they do already.
10-06-2006, 01:13 AM
I was resisting the invention of a new paradigm for the past couple of years, figuring another one just wasn't where it's at.
Isn't that a sort of paradigm itself? :wink:
Since I can be a bit of a flaky hippie, no discussion of mysticism is complete until I mention the virtues of psilocybin; it's what made me "feel" for the first time what I had been trying to intellectualize all through my teens. Of course, it also dumped a lot more on my plate that I'm still sorting out in my head... but I mention it because the disconnect between my perception and my spiritual ideals has been a perennial source of frustration for me. I think a degree of philosophical resignation (whatever that means) is necessary here, since we're always going to have at least one foot in the mundane.
If nothing else, then this sort of thinking has transformed my fear of death into a longing for it. (to which many would probably respond, "That can be arranged....")
I'm nostalgic for my home!
10-06-2006, 07:59 AM
Some call the disposition we need "Divine Ignorance." The wonder that we cannot truly know what anything is.
Substances like that you mention added something to my own experience, but I don't think it was too..."substantial." Meditation has given me what I've believed to be glimpses or intuitions of the Greater-than-"I."
Well, I don't feel so resigned as I have felt. I must say, Ligotti really rocked my world a while back, and I sort of consider him my "dark guru." Still, I do not sense any kind of bothersome seeking-business going on in me either. Thank God.
10-06-2006, 05:43 PM
If you don't mind, what sorts of meditation practices have you used, Noel? It's one of those things (like physical exercise!) that I've tried on occasion to bring into my routine, only to lose interest due to my impatience and impertinence. I'm assuming the best tip is to "keep it up," though, eh?
On a similar tilt, I'm intrigued by Kundalini Yoga, but damn if it isn't tough to get past all the New Agey B.S. found in these arenas....
I do consider dancing to be a form of meditation (and/or invocation, depending on intent,) and I do that almost daily. (As the apocryphal Jesus said, "To the universe belongs the dancer....") It's totally silly, but I attach a deep spiritual significance to my disco and house records. :P
It seems as if anything can be a path. Ligotti's fiction has been one of them for me, of course. And psychedelics, art films, Bill Hicks' comedy, and gay club music, among other things. Life is strange.
10-06-2006, 10:04 PM
I've done many types, but mainly the cathartic meditations devised by Osho (Rajneesh) and the vipassana of watching thoughts, emotions, etc., instead of the breath. These days meditation either happens or it doesn't; I don't maintain a formal practice. But when it does, it's realer. It's been pared down to simply sitting, with no purpose. Eyes open, they close...fix on whatever around the room, the mind following...then coming back. If I drift into sleepiness, I open them and glance easily about me at some thing or things in my material world. When they are tacitly acknowledged, I close my eyes and go back inside with that equanimity. If the general longing is there to "unfix," as it seems to be in me, then that is what often kicks in -- but only out of the total freedom I give myself, that I'm just sitting, not meditating.
I've also done a useful concentration-then-letting go Zen exercise. You can let go only to the degree that you can concentrate, but concentration isn't meditation.
10-06-2006, 10:10 PM
P.S. Dancing is absolutely great. Yes, I'd beware of the New Age fluff and bull too. Been there, done that. My path has tended to be more tantric than yogic; I guess my yoga (effort) energy was exhausted in my days as a born again Christian years ago.
Anyway, all this kind of stuff has been up in the air for me the past two years or so. Tom's writings coincided with other events and learnings that came along, one of which was a full facing of the fact of the mushy clay feet of even, and maybe especially, the best spiritual masters.
08-19-2007, 08:08 AM
Here's something I found recently about what I consider our sister country:
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